Xbox One: Batman Arkham Asylum (2009)

Release Date: August 25, 2009

Genre: Action/Adventure/Stealth

Rating: 7.5/10

Batman is tricked to fighting Joker in one of his craziest schemes yet: take over Arkham Asylum, poison Gotham City, and take out Batman once and for all. You play as the Caped Crusader in order to stop Joker’s evil plan.

Okay, this was a game-breaker when it first came out, never before has there been a good Batman game and Rocksteady gave us that and then some with this game. It took the coolest stuff about being Batman and made a game around it. His amazing martial arts are matched perfectly with his abilities to use the shadow and fear to his advantage.

Also it’s a game series I’m kind of a super fan about and always (try to) 100% everything on the hardest difficulty. In this one, getting all the Riddler trophies and puzzles is easy, so easy it’s kind of stupid the shear number of the things to collect. And considering how many trophies there are that don’t unlock anything else (not that there’s a whole lot to unlock) is just baffling to me, it’s ratio should be more even and getting something that doesn’t give you anything else but a percent-complete point and some XP, not to mention the crazy amount of them, really dilutes the experience of even finding the stupid thing.

And the other thing that annoys me is the last couple of fights in the challenge mode. I’m not talking about the Predator missions, those are all amazingly fun to figure out how best to accomplish your goal, but the Combat ones can be frustratingly difficult in this one, especially those last two. You have to struggle to get the 9-move Combat Variation bonus in every round of a four round match. Maybe others out there find this a lot easier than I do, but they’re so hard to me that they aren’t fun anymore. Anyway, because I gave up only got about 97% on this one.

Oh, and I usually don’t care about graphics, but the faces in this updated addition was very distracting and hard to look at. For a lot of conversations with close-ups (most of them) I started just skipping through it because everyone’s face, especially Batman’s, was so ugly it distracted me too much to be able to listen to anyone.

The other thing that is more than lacking in this one is the boss fights. In later ones, I remember these being both challenging and interesting, meaning you had to think in order to win. Here, let’s see, there’s Bane, who you hit with a batarang and dodge out of the way, Scarecrow, who’s more of platforming-stealth levels that if you get caught you die, Harley Quinn, who just throws a lot of guys at you while changing which floor you have to fight on, Killer Croc, who you have to sneak by or he kills you or hit him in with a batarang or he kills you, Poison Ivy, the only boss fight that actually feels like a boss fight, and Joker, which is a bit spoilery so I’ll just sit here and sigh dispassionately… Aside from Poison Ivy they are just so lacking that the highlights of the game really become the sneaking-around bits or the fighting-a-bunch-of-goons parts. Other than that is a big empty compound with waaay too many Riddler trophies and a stack of disappointing super-criminals.

SCORING:

Playability: 3.5 out of 4: The controls are pretty solid and do what you want them to most of the time, however there are points, especially in giant battles, when someone is attacking you but Batman acts like your blocking nobody, or when you point in a direction to attack an incoming goon but Batman attacks the air next to the guy instead, just a few things like that where I feel someone could have fine-tuned that along the way, especially since this is a re-release you’d think they’d work out the rest of the kinks

Fun Factor: 2.5 out of 3: I know I complained a lot but it’s still a great experience to play through even for the tenth time, it’s only lacking after you beat the game and have to get the rest of the Riddler stuff in a totally empty asylum

Story: 1 of 1: A great story that fits in really well with the rest of basically every Batman universe

Sound: 1 of 1: everything sounds great, especially the voice actors, many of which are returning cast members from Batman: the Animated Series

Replayability: 1 of 1: With all the challenges and Riddler trophies, you’ll keep coming back for hours on end

Graphics: -1 of 0: Everyone is so ugly in this game, this somehow looked better when it wasn’t in HD

Bosses: -0.5 of 0: These are supposed to be epic battles between Batman and his nemeses. Instead, it’s just a whole lot of disappointment, except for the Ivy fight, which kind of makes me think she should have been the main boss of the game, I know everyone loves the Joker but I feel he could have been the side villain instead of the other way around.

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